Synergistic effect of tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF(25)) of rice bran and lovastatin on lipid parameters in hypercholesterolemic humans

J Nutr Biochem. 2001 Jun;12(6):318-329. doi: 10.1016/s0955-2863(01)00144-9.


Tocotrienols exert hypocholesterolemic action in humans and animals. Lovastatin is widely used for that purpose. Both agents work by suppressing the activity of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase through different mechanisms, post-transcriptional vs competitive inhibition. A human study with 28 hypercholesterolemic subjects was carried out in 5 phases of 35 days each, to check the efficacy of tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF(25)) of rice bran alone and in combination with lovastatin. After placing subjects on the American Heart Association (AHA) Step-1 diet (phase II), the subjects were divided into two groups, A and B. The AHA Step-1 diet was continued in combination with other treatments during phases III to V. Group A subjects were given 10 mg lovastatin, 10 mg lovastatin plus 50 mg TRF(25), 10 mg lovastatin plus 50 mg alpha-tocopherol per day, in the third, fourth, and fifth phases, respectively. Group B subjects were treated exactly to the same protocol except that in the third phase, they were given 50 mg TRF(25) instead of lovastatin.The TRF(25) or lovastatin plus AHA Step-1 diet effectively lower serum total cholesterol (14%, 13%) and LDL-cholesterol (18%, 15% P < 0.001), respectively, in hypercholesterolemic subjects. The combination of TRF(25) and lovastatin plus AHA Step-1 diet significantly reduces of these lipid parameters of 20% and 25% (P < 0.001) in these subjects. Substitution of TRF(25) with alpha-tocopherol produces insignificant changes when given with lovastatin. Especially significant is the increase in the HDL/LDL ratio to 46% in group (A) and 53% (P < 0.002) in group (B). These results are consistent with the synergistic effect of these two agents. None of the subjects reported any side-effects throughout the study of 25-weeks. In the present study, the increased effectiveness of low doses of tocotrienols (TRF(25)) as hypocholesterolemic agents might be due to a minimum conversion to alpha-tocopherol. The report also describes in vivo the conversion of gamma-[4-3H]-, and [14C]-desmethyl (d-P(21)-T3) tocotrienols to alpha-tocopherol.